How can we bring more awareness to eating disorders and educate the younger generation about the dangers, while muting the effects of social media comparisons?

Awards

goa-citation

Eating disorders affect people all around us, we just might not notice it.

Take a minutes to fill out this google form in order to see how much knowledge you have on this topic:

https://forms.gle/BzkKJJyqpkcszWh98


Overview:

Eating disorders can affect people in a multitude of different ways, so it is important that we learn about those differences and value the hardships of people struggling with them. My goal with this project is to bring awareness to eating disorders and hopefully educate more people on their significance. People’s efforts in recognizing when someone may be struggling with an eating disorder can start small. Showing empathy and kindness to those around you and making sure you are not using harmful language can go a long way when interacting with someone who may be struggling. This topic is close to my heart because I have seen people in my community struggle with their body image and sometimes develop eating disorders as a result. I have always felt terrible that I was unable to help them through their pain, so my goal is to educate people on the warning signs, prevention methods, and treatment methods for eating disorders so our society’s acceptance of mental health can grow.


Prevention:

There are many ways one can do their best to prevent a loved one from developing an eating disorder. Here are some of the most accessible and helpful methods:

  • Support healthy body image representation in media
  • Educate people on the dangers of dieting
  • Encourage healthy and safe eating
  • Advocate that achievements should not be based on weight or appearance

Education:

Educating teenagers in school as well as family members of someone with an eating disorder is a crucial step in bringing awareness to it. The reasons why people develop eating disorders can be confusing because they are different for everyone, but it is still important for people to understand the warning signs. It is especially important for children to learn about eating disorders in school because they might not have access to that resource elsewhere. Those students also may recognize their own experiences while learning and be encouraged to seek help or talk to a trusted adult.

Some of the key concepts people learning about eating disorders should know:

  • Causes: Eating disorders can be caused by a range of factors such as genetics, social surrounding, and psychological factors. One’s social surroundings can influence their eating habits and behavior as well as their genetics.
  • Symptoms/Warning Signs: low self-esteem, binge eating (present in bulimia), extreme dieting, dramatic weight-loss, dehydration, and starvation.
  • How to Support Someone: Show empathy by listening to them, support them by reinforcing the idea that there is no “ideal body” and that one’s self worth should not be defined by that, or refer them to a medical professional.

Social Media:

(image description: Lindsay Dodgsen did an experiment where she had different influencers edit her pictures to show how altered social media images are)

The younger generation interacts with social media on a daily basis, and the majority of those interactions can be self-deprecating. Women often compare their bodies to other women on their feed and believe that they are seeing the “ideal body” because of what society tells them. This harmful behavior also effects men. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men.” Social media is an issue that effects almost every teenager, so through this project I wanted to find ways to use social media in a way that is beneficial for one’s mental health.

Some important things to remember when engaging with social media are:

  • Advertisements and posts have more than likely been carefully edited to look “perfect” and do not reflect reality.
  • What society defines as “beautiful” does not define your individual self-worth.
  • Advertisements are created to be convincing and compel you to buy their products, so their images will often look altered to look a certain way.
  • You are only seeing the final product of a post or advertisement, not the original and natural photo.

How to use social media in a positive way:

  • Use media that makes you feel confident rather than discouraged.
  • When you see a post that could affect your mindset negatively, ask yourself, “Is this image edited to look a certain way?” and “Is this post sending a positive message about body image?”
  • Use your own account to spread body positivity by sharing new information on the topic or celebrating people who use their account to influence others on the importance of body positivity.

My Response:

My current response to this question is that we can spread awareness by teaching people how they are caused and what they can do to prevent them. Social media fosters a negative space where teenagers are constantly comparing themselves to people online. So, I think it would help to make social media a space where people can appreciate their differences by increasing the number of body positivity accounts and creating more transparency with altered or edited images. My goal is for my research to reach people who do not know a lot about eating disorders. In order to raise awareness for eating disorders, people must be educated on the proper ways to help someone who is struggling with one. I hope that I can share my research with my peers and classmates in my community in order to educate them on this topic.


Feedback:

Feel free to respond to any of these questions in the comments:

  1. What is something new you learned from this presentation?
  2. What did you find to be the most important takeaway?
  3. Have you noticed any of the aspects of eating disorders in your own community?

Resources:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TLnR6Cfsm–ZIMxUTdPLiLrengVH8rzuew5w9Ynzb6w/edit?usp=sharing

13 Comments

13 comments

  1. Hi Vivian! I loved your project, I think it’s such an important topic to educate people on. Something I learned from this presentation is that men can have eating disorders too. Although I sorta had an idea that eating disorders can affect men, when I think of eating disorders I think of only women. It’s so true that there is this pressure on men to be muscular. This presentation helped grow my knowlege about eating disorders and ways I can help someone who is struggling with one. Great Job!

    1. Hi Kathleen! I also did not usually associate men with eating disorders before doing research for this project. I’m glad your were able to learn something new. Thank you for your comment!

  2. Hey Vivian! Your project was really well done and this is such an important issue! Something I took away was that social media is not reality and that things can be greatly altered when put on the internet. I think this is so important to keep in mind and the image you included of Lindsey Dodgers edited picture is such a great way to depict that. I have definitely seen aspects of eating disorders in my community, and a lot of the time it is stemming from body image issues related to social media and an ideal body standard. I think like as you mentioned, that is why spreading positivity on media platforms is so important. As I said, this is a great project with a meaningful message!
    -Layla

    1. Hi Layla! I also thought that the image of Lindsey Dodgers represented how social media is not always reality so I’m glad that you thought the same. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hi Vivian! I absolutely loved your project and think it’s a wonderful place to start tackling this important issue. Eating disorders are prevalent among teenagers all over and I think it’s important to educate adolescents about the causes, ways to cope, and ways to help out others who might be struggling. I also think it’s important how you brought up social media and the negative impact it has on our body image/self-esteem. It’s important to promote positivity and I think your idea of having a safe online space for that is really cool! Wonderful job!

    1. Hi Marley! I also think that by having a safe online space we can help people who may be struggling with body image or eating disorders. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Hi Vivian, this is a great presentation! I think there are definitely a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about eating disorders and education and discussion are beneficial. I also think that there should be much more education around eating disorders in school considering that the population who suffers 95% of eating disorders includes school kids. I also love your idea of promoting a positive and accepting environment on social media.

    1. Hi Namara! I definitely agree that we need to implement more education on eating disorders and other mental health issues in school because so many younger people struggle with them. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Hi Vivian! I loved your project, you have touched upon such prevalent topic in our society and you were able to correctly teach us a few things we can do to combat the issue. I feel as thought social media has brought to light a lot of prevalent issues with eating disorders but a lot of times people talk about it incorrectly, causing a lot of triggering content to go around. Regarding your second question ‘What did you find to be the most important takeaway?’ I believe something really interesting that you pointed out was the affirmations about how we should react when looking at social media. I think this topic should be more touched upon and especially when there are so many young kids joining the internet lately. Great job!

    1. Hi Laura! I agree that social media has been helpful in terms of this issue because it allows more people to learn about eating disorders. But as you said, it is important to use social media responsibly so it can be a safe environment for everyone. I’m glad you were able to learn something new in this presentation, thanks for your comment!

  6. Hi Vivian! You did such a great job with your project and especially on a topic that can be harder to talk about. I am also a dancer, so right away I was really drawn and connected to your topic. I know that I constantly feel surrounded by negativity whether it is at school, at dance, with friends, with family, and especially as a teen growing up with an increase in social media activity, so this has been very informative in ways to try to counteract it. I really liked your idea of spreading positivity and and educating people through social media because it is a platform that the majority of people use at some point.

  7. Hi Vivian!
    Great presentation! I noticed that you included a statistic stating that 75% of people with eating disorders are female, I am curious if eating disorders are under diagnosed in males due to a culture of toxic masculinity or if eating disorders are actually more prevalent in women?

  8. Hi Vivian!
    I loved your presentation and learned so much about eating disorders. I think your tips on how to use social media positively are helpful and should be encouraged. I think disordered eating in my community is definitely being perpetuated by social media but also sports culture and I agree that education about the harms could play a role in reducing it.

Leave a Reply to Vivian_208 Cancel reply